Interview Questions | Assessing Soft Skills & Cultural Fit

From assessing a candidate's soft skills, to ensuring they will be a good cultural fit, read our interview questions guide.


The process of hiring an employee goes far beyond picking the individual with the best CV. While someone may look terrific on paper, it’s the interview that can tell you if they are the right person for the job. You need to know that the candidate you hire will not only have the technical skills for the job, but also has the personal qualities to fit in with your organisation’s culture and to succeed in their role.

What are soft skills are why are they important?
Soft skills can be hard to measure, but they are vital for job success. Soft skills are the non-technical skills that make an individual great at their job. These skills are difficult to teach, so hiring candidates with strong soft skills allows you to nurture them alongside their 'hard' technical skills, allowing them to grow into future leadership
roles within the company.

Candidates with strong interpersonal or professional skills are highly sought after by employers. According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Global Talent Trends Report, 92% of talent professionals and hiring managers stated that soft skills were more important than technical skills, and 80% say they are increasingly vital to a company’s success. However, the report states that assessing these skills is often a struggle; only 41% of respondents have a formal process in place to assess them. A well-developed interview process with the right questions can help you find candidates with the required skills and identify any red flags.

LinkedIn reports that some of the most sought-after soft skills in 2020 were creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability, and emotional intelligence. Here are some examples of questions that assess specific soft skills:

• How would you explain a complex topic to someone with less technical knowledge than you?
• Describe a time when you were able to successfully persuade a manager to see things your way.

• Describe a time when you had to take the lead during a difficult project. What was the outcome?
• How would you motivate a team member who is struggling with a task?

Time management
• How did you prioritise your work when you have multiple deadlines?
• How do you go about ensuring you meet your objectives?

• How would you deal with a project where the priorities change mid-way?
• Describe how you would ensure that a project was completed on time when team member could not complete their share of the work for some reason?

How a candidate answers questions like these can give you an insight into how they work, and the methods they use to communicate effectively with colleagues and customers.

What is cultural fit and why is it important?
Just as you assess a candidate’s soft skills, it is also important to see if they will fit in with your organisation’s culture.

Every company has a set of values, attitudes, and behaviours that are shared by its employees, and this culture aims to unite employees with a common vision. A company’s culture is extremely important - in fact, a Deloitte study found that 94% of executives and 88% of employees surveyed in the UK believed that a distinct workplace culture is vital to business success. The interview process can help you determine whether a candidate will fit in with and even enhance your company’s values. Hiring candidates who are a good cultural fit can ensure your workforce is engaged from day one.

How to hire for cultural fit
Having a good idea of the ideal persona for the job role can help you select the right candidate. For example, when hiring for a client-facing role, you might look for someone who comes as approachable and friendly, rather than shy and reserved. On the other hand, if the job involves working on a solitary basis for most of the time, someone who gravitates towards a sociable and lively atmosphere may not be a great fit.

Here are some questions that can help you determine if a candidate is likely to fit in with your company culture:

  • • Describe the kind of work environment that you feel the most productive and happy in.
  • • What gets you excited about coming to work?
  • • How would your colleagues at your previous job describe working with you?
  • • Which of our company’s core values do you most/least identify with?
  • • How do you feel about being friends with your colleagues? Or do you prefer a strictly professional environment?
  • • How could a manager best support you?

Although you are the one conducting the interview, it’s important to remember that the interviewee will also be using the opportunity to decide if your company is the right fit for them. Delivering a positive interview experience is one way to ensure you attract the right talent. Ahead the interview, set out a clear definition of your company’s mission and values, and list the corresponding characteristics and skills you are looking for in your new hire. Make a list of questions you would like to ask; aim to ask open-ended questions rather than yes/no ones, to allow the conversation to open up and to let the candidate’s personality traits shine through. You could also incorporate a personality assessment as part of the shortlisting process.

Get more tips on how to deliver a best-in-class interview here.

Adecco can help put the right people on your team and give you the support and resources you need to keep them there. To learn more, contact us today.

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